Bloodstock 2005

Season's End | After Forever | Within Temptation

Derby Assembly Rooms ~ 3 September 2005

concert review

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Review © Stephen Lambe 2005 | Images © Chris Walkden 2005
Production © Russ Elliot 2005 | Last updated: 11 September 2005

After the festival's success in showcasing bands with female singers in 2004, the organisers pulled off quite a coup in 2005 by having the two best-known Dutch female fronted bands playing on the same day. With After Forever playing in the early evening--their first time in the UK--and Within Temptation headlining, this promised to be quite a festival.

Earlier in the day, however, British band Season's End played an excellent 35-minute set, having been promoted to the main stage in 2005. In truth, this was a similar set to the one played on the second stage in 2004, with the same songs showcased from their recently re-released debut album The Failing Light (review), including the very impressive "Ghost in My Emotion" with second vocalist David Stanton showcased as usual. However the band has clearly come on in leaps and bounds as performers. Singer Becki Clark prowled the stage like a lioness, and the rest of the band threw themselves into their performances with huge commitment, even including Dave Smith, rocking backwards and forwards behind his keyboard.

"Into the Flames" included an extended instrumental section that allowed various musicians a few moments in the limelight, especially skilled second guitarist Daryl Kellie, bassist Tom Nicholls and powerful drummer Paul White. While this felt a little forced in such a short set, it demonstrated the current level of cohesion and ambition in a band very much on the rise. Season's End remains an excellent, dynamic group with plenty of character and drive. The world awaits them! ()

After Forever (feature) certainly made the most of their 55-minute early evening slot, playing a hugely energetic set. This was the band's first appearance in the UK, so first thing that impressed about the band was the immense stage presence of singer Floor Jansen. Though statuesque and toned, she still appealingly feminine, and she commands the stage. Meanwhile, the band gave their all, with young keyboard player Joost Van den Broek and guitarist Sander Gomans particularly notable. Playing material from across their career, the band also showcased some impressive songs from their new album Remagine. Vocally, it was gratifying that Sander's grunts were kept to a minimum, while Floor's voice hovered between powerful rock singing and the full operatic style for which she is best known. Overall, this was a triumphant performance, which will hopefully see them back in Britain soon. ()

With the luxury of headlining, Within Temptation (feature) had full control over their stage set, which featured a particularly ambitious design. Two giant angels stood at the back of the stage framed by huge pillars, covered in runes, while vines were wrapped around the keyboards, drums and mike stands. The band also used back projections for added effect. Overall, this was impressive and atmospheric, if slightly confused and over the top, not that anyone was complaining.

Musically, the band were in fine form, Sharon den Adel delivering her trademark moves and facial expressions, while the rest of the band, led by charismatic guitarist Robert Westerholt, seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage. Sharon's voice is purer and more feminine than Floor's, rising above the music beautifully. The songs from the new album Angels were well received, and the bandís cover version of Kate Bush's "Running up that Hill" was a pleasing surprise, but it wasnít until the band played songs from Mother Earth towards the end of the set, that the band really came fully to life. This was an impressive, and surprisingly likeable performance nonetheless ().

With the festival able to attract groups from continental Europe of the quality of Within Temptation and After Forever, the Bloodstock festival should go from strength to strength. This was another fine year for the festival, and we look forward to seeing what treasures it produces next year.

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